Monday, April 30, 2007

Tune of the Week: Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad"

Solidarity to all who will be marching tomorrow for equal rights for immigrant workers! No to raids and deportations! No to racist scapegoating! No to the border wall! Yes to the rights of all working people and a world without borders!

This is off of Springsteen's album of the same name, a beautiful record about the reality of living in Clinton era globalized America. The boss takes the story of Tom Joad (in the tradition of Woody Guthrie before him) and likens it to the journey of those coming to this country trying to find a better life. Though seemingly depressing at first, it ends on the classic note of defiance; Tom's final speech at the end of "The Grapes of Wrath." And then of course, there is Rage Against the Machine's brilliant cover version!

Si se puede!

*****

Men walkin' 'long the railroad tracks
Goin' someplace there's no goin' back
Highway patrol choppers comin' up over the ridge
Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge
Shelter line stretchin' round the corner
Welcome to the new world order
Families sleepin' in their cars in the southwest
No home no job no peace no rest

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Searchin' for the ghost of Tom Joad

He pulls prayer book out of his sleeping bag
Preacher lights up a butt and takes a drag
Waitin' for when the last shall be first and the first shall be last
In a cardboard box 'neath the underpass
Got a one-way ticket to the promised land
You got a hole in your belly and gun in your hand
Sleeping on a pillow of solid rock
Bathin' in the city aqueduct

The highway is alive tonight
But where it's headed everybody knows
I'm sittin' down here in the campfire light
Waitin' on the ghost of Tom Joad

Now Tom said "Mom, wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there
Wherever there's somebody fightin' for a place to stand
Or decent job or a helpin' hand
Wherever somebody's strugglin' to be free
Look in their eyes Mom you'll see me."

The highway is alive tonight
But nobody's kiddin' nobody about where it goes
I'm sittin' downhere in the campfire light
With the ghost of old Tom Joad

Friday, April 27, 2007

Is Russell Simmons Playing Politics With Hip-Hop?

By Alexander Billet

Published in Dissident Voice

It’s hard to know what to think about Russell Simmons’ recent announcement about checking the content of hip-hop. There is no denying that most of us would like the words “bitch,” “ho,” and “nigger” to disappear from the English lexicon entirely. But alas, the situation is much more complicated than that. On the one hand, it is true that sexism and homophobia abound in not just rap but popular culture as a whole. On the other, there is a need to defend the music against those who denounce it for political gain.

And on yet a third hand (or maybe a foot), we have the context of the announcement: in midst of a backlash against the glorious sacking of Don Imus.

Apples and Oranges

To be clear, Imus’ supposed defense that he was merely repeating the “language” in hip-hop is the biggest pile of crap since… well, his show. Hip-hop is a response to the long-term degradation of blacks and other oppressed peoples in the United States. Like all music it is flawed, but like no other genre it remains a mirror held up to the worst ills in American society. Imus, on the other hand, is a mouthpiece for maintaining those ills. A well-paid veteran broadcaster, he has spent the past twenty-plus years calling Arabs rag-heads, gay men faggots, and black women “cleaning ladies.” He brought his producer on board because he liked “nigger jokes.” And all the while he has interviewed the most high-profile politicians, media moguls and millionaires on his show. Imus and hip-hop are in completely different leagues.

Furthermore, to say that sexism is somehow unique to rap is laughable. Listen to anything by Merle Haggard or Ted Nugent, the Rolling Stones’ “Cat Scratch Fever,” or the hit from Fountains of Wayne “Stacy’s Mom” (whose video featured a stereotypical “MILF” parading around in stripper gear) and one might get a good idea of how rife so-called “white” music is with misogyny.

But the twisted logic of this defense seems to have soaked well past Imus himself. Barack Obama (whose own role in assuaging white liberal guilt becomes bigger and bigger every day) made it clear which side he stood on with his comments last week: “We’ve got to admit to ourselves that it was not the first time that we heard the word ‘ho.’ Turn on the radio station. There are a whole lot of songs that use the same language and we’ve been permitting it in our homes, in our schools, and on iPods.” So, Barack, how long until you revive the PMRC?

It is the same kind of bootstrap rhetoric we’ve been hearing from Obama since day one. It’s the kind of talk that bolsters the idea that racism doesn’t exist, and blacks are only poor because they’re lazy and self-loathing. When Obama spends more time talking about “getting Uncle Jethro off the couch” than he does about Hurricane Katrina, any criticism he may have of hip-hop should be put on mute.

Muddying the Message

Enter Russell Simmons. At times, his own defense of hip-hop has been eloquent and prescient. His response to Obama provided a glimpse into the nature of this debate: “People who are angry… and come from tremendous struggle; they have poetic license, and when they say things that offend you, you have to talk about the conditions that create those kinds of lyrics. When you are talking about a privileged man who has a mainstream vehicle and mainstream support and is on a radio station like that you have to deal with them differently.”

Yet less than a week later, Simmons and his Hip-hop Summit Action Network announces it is launching a campaign to better the content of Simmons’ own Def Jam recordings. In particular, he wants to crack down on the use of the words “ho,” “bitch,” and “nigger.” Though a dialogue about such a thing is welcome, it should be initiated by the artists themselves, not by a label owner. When it is initiated by someone in Simmons’ position, and at a time such as this, one wonders if this “discussion” is happening because of a genuine need, or rather because of pressure from the same people who are threatened by hip-hop’s very existence.

First of all, neither Obama, Oprah, or any of the more right wing figures diverting the issue seem to know anything about hip-hop. One wonders why there is no mention of the socially hard-hitting rhymes of The Roots, Common or Talib Kweli. Or even some of the more conscious (if still contradictory) mainstream joints coming from the likes of Nas or Kanye West.

Perhaps it’s because there are those who have made billions off marketing rap’s worst elements, while downplaying its long history of being a forum to speak out on inequality and poverty. Ever since Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” first hit the airwaves, the likes of MTV, BET and Clear Channel have sought ever more effective methods of making rap marketable by dumbing it down. That’s called exploitation.

Hip-hop historian Jeff Chang illustrated such marketing patterns with the example of Nas’ Stillmatic in a 2002 article. Though the album was full of protests against war and racism in the post-9/11 world, it also included songs with homophobic language chronicling his beef with Jay-Z. Needless to say, the latter got the airplay, but the former was ignored.

It’s All About the Cheddar

Given this, it is questionable how much Simmons himself will actually be able to change. He may have direct control over the content that his own label puts out, but Def Jam is still subject to the same market principles as any other major record label. With Clear Channel having a strangle-hold on radio airplay, and likewise with MTV on television, will Simmons’ efforts make a difference?

An MC friend of mine from Baltimore recently pointed out that Simmons lives in a very different world than most of the acts on his label. Despite his admirable record on civil rights issues, Simmons’ more recent behavior may indicate somewhat of a shift. Many progressive hip-hop fans were dismayed when he endorsed Maryland’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele for Senate last election. When he received criticism for organizing a tour through Africa with DeBeers Jewelers, Simmons responded that there is too much focus on conflict diamonds.

Might his endorsement of Steele be just the beginning? Might this announcement be more than a publicity stunt, but a concession to Obama and the likes? Is it possible that beneath his progressive image, Simmons is attempting to buddy up to this country’s heavy-hitting politicos?

Only time will tell, but there is a bigger problem. In making this announcement about hip-hop’s content now, in the context of a backlash in response the Imus firing, Simmons’ concession seems to say that the two are linked. They aren’t. Worse still, Simmons’ action opens the door for those who want to do away with not just the “sexist” or “misogynistic” elements, but hip-hop altogether. John McWhorter of the conservative Manhattan Institute has stated he makes no distinction between “conscious” rap and “gangsta” rap. He sees both as violent and depraved. When it comes down to it he would also probably like to squash the art form altogether. Simmons’ has now opened the door to McWhorter’s arguments.

The Imus scandal should be an opportunity to talk about the very real racial and gender inequality in this country. It should be the chance to ask why women make 75 cents to men’s dollar. To ask why more black men are in prison than college, and why the NYPD thought it necessary to pump fifty rounds into Sean Bell’s car. Instead, the debate has shifted to all the flaws in black culture, and has merely reinforced the double standard that “white” culture simply isn’t held up to. Where will Russell Simmons taken the debate? Only time will tell, but it doesn’t look promising.

Joe Strummer Film Soundtrack Revealed

Who knows how the film will be, but the soundtrack looks awesome! -AB

****

New biopic features songs chosen by the late Clash singer
The tracklisting to the soundtrack of the forthcoming Joe Strummer biopic has been unveiled.

The release features 25 songs performed by the late Clash singer and chosen by the frontman for his BBC World Service radio show in the late 90s.

Along with tracks by The Clash, the soundtrack to 'Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten' features songs by his other projects including the 101ers and the The Mescaleros and classics from Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan.

The full tracklisting is:

'Punk Rock Warlord' - Joe Strummer
'White Riot' - The Clash
'Rock The Casbah' - Rachid Taha
'BBC World Service'
'Crawfish' - Elvis Presley
'Black Sheep Boy' - Tim Hardin
'Kick Out The Jams' - MC5
'Keys To Your Heart' - 101ers
'Mick and Paul Were Different' - Joe Strummer
'I'm So Bored With The USA' - The Clash
'Natty Rebel (2006 Mix)' - U Roy
'Armagideon Time' - The Clash
'Nervous Breakdown' - Eddie Cochrane
'(In The) Pouring Rain' - The Clash
'Omotepe' - Joe Strummer
'Martha Cecilia' - Andres Landeros
'Minuet' - Ernest Ranglin
'Trash City' - Joe Strummer & Latino Rockabilly War
'I Called Him Woody' - Topper Headon
'Rangers Command' - Woody Guthrie
'Corrina, Corrina' - Bob Dylan
'Johnny Appleseed' - Joe Strummer
'To Love Somebody' - Nina Simone
'Without People Your Nothing' - Strummer & The Mescaleros
'Willesden to Cricklewood' - Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

The soundtrack to 'Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten' is released on May 7.

The film, which contains never before seen footage of The Clash along with interviews from bandmate Mick Jones, Martin Scorsese, Bono and Red Hot Chili Peppers, will hit UK cinemas on May 18.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Tune of the Week: Victor Jara's "El Derecho de Vivir en Paz"

There is a lot to say about the Virginia Tech shootings, most of which you won't hear any mainstream newspaper say. Why did the campus not protect the students better? Why was an obviously mentally ill young man not taken care of?

But most of all, why are reporters acting shocked that a country responsible for such violence abroad might have that same violence visited here at home? Juan Cole rightfully pointed out that the tragedy of VT occurs twice a day in Baghdad.

This is a song by the late Nueva Cancion legend Victor Jara. It was written about Vietnam, but like all things from that era, it is painfully relevent today. It's haunting melody seems to sum up both the tragedy of an everyday life of violence, but also the hope to change it. To those dead in Blacksburg and Baghdad. We all have the right to live in peace, and the ability to fight for it.

Listen to the song right here. -AB

Friday, April 20, 2007

Son Volt's Search for a Better World

By Alexander Billet

Published in Socialist Worker

It is hard to listen to Son Volt’s new album The Search without asking one obvious question: What exactly is the group “searching” for?

Ultimately, it’s something that has preoccupied frontman Jay Farrar ever since his days with Uncle Tupelo, when he and his bandmates were dubbed the crown princes of “alternative-country” (a label he’s attempted to distance himself from recently).

Farrar has always been masterful at weaving stories of working-class life, of ordinary people doing what they can to survive, but somehow never forgetting their dreams.

Furthermore, Farrar’s thoroughly humanistic approach flies in the face of the blue-collar-equals-red-state formula that we’re told is part of America’s genetic makeup. When the image of both “middle America” and country music is built around conservative values and Larry the Cable Guy, Son Volt’s eloquent voice, backed by a steady rock rhythm and confidently raucous guitars, shakes that myth to its core.

In this respect, The Search is a bold step for Son Volt. Some critics have panned the album’s experimentation. The realm of “traditional American rock,” or “Americana,” is largely regarded as static, with little room for innovation. But Farrar began innovating here with Tupelo, and continues bucking the trend on such tracks as “Circadian Rhythm,” mixing The Band-era organ arrangements with a trippy backward guitar loop.

This dichotomy, between old and new, past and present, is what characterizes The Search. In so doing, it shows that the stories of ordinary people haven’t gone anywhere. Like Son Volt’s music, they have only evolved and are more potent than ever.

In “The Picture,” Farrar incorporates a rollicking Memphis-style horn section into an anthemic rock background, ruminating on the present state of things “when war is profit and profit is war.” Farrar is even more explicit and urgent on the track “Underground Dream,” which takes on what he calls “conservative cowboy ideologies” and openly questions a society that chooses war over education.

But Farrar’s greatest talent, crafting vivid tales of regular people looking for a place to belong, remains unchanged. This is the strong suit of any music with its roots in folk or country, and Farrar, as always, does not disappoint.

The gentle yet haunting “Methamphetamine” tells the story of a man trying to make end’s meet and lamenting his dreams cut short: “I took the night shift, another nickel on the dime/Try to play it straight, make it different this time/Still waiting to meet the next ex-wife...It’s either watching these gauges for Monsanto/Or a bar-back job at the casino/The Army won’t want me after what this body’s been through.”

The song’s chorus is the man’s longing to be taken back to his home in North Carolina, a home that doesn’t exist anymore.

Perhaps this dream deferred that keeps Farrar up at night is also what he is searching for. If so, then it’s a search that runs through the history of American music--from Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Bruce Springsteen.

It’s a search for a world where ordinary people’s hopes and aspirations matter and can come true. That’s a world well worth searching for.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Quote of the Day

Right on! -AB

"I don't actually like rock and roll lyrics that are political because lyrics are almost irrelevant in rock and roll. What lyrics are is just an incantation, a kind of spell. A political band isn't a band with political lyrics. A political band is a group that's creating a narrative that guides the culture towards, well, towards destroying the ruling class, in whatever way." -Ian Svenonius of Nation of Ulysses, The Make-Up and Weird War

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

University Goes On Offensive Against RIAA

This story stuck out to me. Read the last two sentences. Now read them again. It seems to me that the RIAA isn't just trying to squash online downloading, but is using it as an excuse to squeeze even more money out of ordinary consumers. Someone remind me why we need these money-grubbing low-lives again. -AB

*****

By Nick Farrell: Monday 16 April 2007, 15:11

from theinquirer.net

NC State University is helping its students stave off attacks from the RIAA. The RIAA filed John Doe lawsuits against 23 students who have been identified by their IP addresses.
Pam Gerace, the director of Student Legal Services at the University, is fighting the lawsuits for her student clients.

Currently she is warning students to remain anonymous because the RIAA has said that it will make sure that their job records are blighted.

Since this is so out of proportion to any copyright protection problems, it was dangerous for students to put their hands up and admit anything. She told the Technician Online that this could prove dangerous for the students, as the RIAA could pursue other legal actions or give the names to record companies.

She said the RIAA implies that cash must be handed over right away, when this is not true.

The outfit has also been changing the number of songs it thinks have been nicked and how much students should pay, which makes it sound like they are making it up as they go along, Gerace said.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tune of the Week: Good-bye

I tried to find a song to celebrate the sacking of Don Imus this week. After years of being subjected to this man's racist, mysoginistic bilge, we can finally close the book on him.

Try as I might, I couldn't find anything really appropriate, save the very simple and forthright...

"Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, good-bye!"

(song and lyrics by Gary DeCarlo, Dale Frashauer, and Paul Leka)

And it feels so good...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fake Plastic Tunes: Radiohead Buck Corporate Coffee

By Alexander Billet

Published on Znet Commentary

Artistic integrity breathed a sigh of relief last Thursday. The NME reports that rumors of Radiohead's possible signing with Hear Music are not true. In the world of almost-deals and broken contracts that is the music industry, this isn't particularly noteworthy. But for everyone who has been dismayed by how shallow the business can be, this is particularly worth mentioning.

Radiohead are one of the most innovative groups in modern music, a band whose profound musical evolution was dictated not by what the "market" demanded from them, but what they demanded from themselves.

Hear Music, on the other hand, is owned by Starbucks.

To be clear, there is no such thing as a major record label without blood on its hands. But on a sheer aesthetic basis, the idea of Starbucks forming a record label is sickening, not to mention the idea that Radiohead might sign with them.

Walk outside and you'll see one practically every block; an empire built on coffee, comfy chairs and a hip atmosphere. As proof of how cool they really are, they sell CDs by the Doors and Django Reinhardt at their registers, and have recently ventured into the realm of music production and retail. The first act they signed was Paul McCartney. They even offer a health plan for their employees and provide the well-known line of Fair Trade Coffee. For those who sing the merits of this system, Starbucks is a stellar example showing that globalization works, and is, above all else, cool.

Except for the union busting. And the exploitation of Ethiopian growers (despite the Fair Trade label). Not to mention the hundreds, if not thousands, of neighborhood coffee shops driven out of business and replaced by another corporate cookie cutter establishment wrapped in a thin veil of "cool."

In short, Starbucks represents the "kicking screaming Gucci little piggy" that Radiohead have spent the past fifteen years lambasting. From their inception, this group has represented the absolute best of alternative music. They have gone from a straightforward post-grunge band to an always changing and evolving musical entity. They have mixed in elements of melancholic electronica, haunting and menacing string sections, mind-bending avant-jazz. In short, no one ever knows what to expect from their next album; an excitement that no other band is able to deliver.

Their unexpected sound and enigmatic, ominous lyrics have made for a body of work that has spoken to the scariest and most alienating elements of modern society. Though cloaked in a creepy, post-modern kind of poetics, their message has still come across like the one faulty microchip in the massive Orwellian super-computer: the system is failing. These sentiments have been echoed by Radiohead's own actions in recent years: from frontman Thom Yorke's increasingly vocal anti-capitalism to the group's decision to tour without corporate sponsorship (inspired by Naomi Klein's No Logo). So it is no wonder that record companies are skittish when dealing with the group, and no wonder that the band itself (currently without a label) won't put a spot of ink on the dotted line until they've finished their long awaited seventh album just the way they want it.

So when the rumors surfaced that this band might sign with a label owned by the bloated green face of 21st century globalization, it is most likely that a great number of Radiohead fans felt their hearts jump into their throats.

But, thankfully, the group's management squashed the buzz last Thursday: "Radiohead are currently in the studio working on their next record. They are not negotiating a new record deal with anyone, and will not even consider how to release their new music until the album is finished… The rumor that they are about to sign with Starbucks is totally untrue."

And thankfully so. The idea of a group that has spoken to our own dissatisfaction with entities like Starbucks actually signing with them would have been disheartening, not to mention contradictory. Yorke and Radiohead probably sympathize more with the Wobblies trying to unionize the baristas than the ones who use their slick image to squeeze as much as they can out of band and barista alike.

If the buzz would have proven true, then Radiohead would have delivered something that no caramel macchiato could have brought to the coffee giant, an image of artistic cred and ultimate hip-ness. But a band with such integrity realizes that beneath the veneer, Hear Music and Starbucks abide by the same ruthless principles that guide this system. For now, we can rest assured. Radiohead will continue to speak to that instinct that rears its head inside every one of us whenever we look at a Starbucks: "this isn't right."

God Bless You, Mr. Vonnegut

Two nights ago, to provide myself with some light bed-time reading, I started to re-read one of Mr. Vonnegut's more recent works, God Bless You Dr. Kevorkian. In it he, writing in the first person, gives himself repeated near-death experiences so that he might interview such people as Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare, and Eugene Debs at the entrance of St. Peter's pearly gates.

Twenty-four hours later he would enter those gates for good.

There are no words to describe the sadness of his passing. I, like many others, was profoundly influenced by him. Slaughterhouse Five is the most dog-eared of dog-eared novels on my bookshelf. He was funny, urbane, and had an undeniable reverence for human life and dignity. Above all, he showed me that compassion, solidarity, and basic human decency were not just quaint ideas, they were common sense.

So it goes,
Alex

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Hundred Million Gold Coins: Why Steve Jobs is NOT a Saint

By Alexander Billet

Published in Znet

One has to admit; it's certainly a landmark. Yesterday, Rolling Stone announced that the world's 100 millionth iPod was sold. Up until a few years ago, the concept seemed little more than a fantasy, while massive chains like Tower Records kept their fingers crossed that it would stay that way.

Predictably, Apple guru Steve Jobs is being showered with a terabyte of praise as an innovator and icon. RS even compiled a clever faux-playlist of songs that Jobs is listening to on his own pod, including such tunes as Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," and NoFX's anti-record industry anthem "Dinosaurs Will Die." Ha ha.

But the question has to be asked; does Jobs deserve such praise? Is he a man who made our music more accessible? Or is he simply a man with undeniable savvy who figured out a way to keep the price tag on an evolving market? The answer to that question goes deep into the true nature of the music industry.

First, a flashback: a little less than a decade ago, the idea of an mp3 had record execs shaking in their Pradas. The minute Napster came to everyone’s attention, groups like the RIAA screamed bloody murder, claiming that downloading would take money from hardworking artists; a laughable notion coming from an industry that is only willing to pony up 15% of each album sale. What scared the stuffed suits the most was the idea that artists and fans might have a forum to share their work without the say-so of corporate greed.

This is where Jobs came in. IPod and iTunes were a perfect way to get ahead of the game. Rather than squashing the mp3, which would have been impossible anyway, Jobs merely found a way for the RIAA (and himself) to make a buck off of it.

But what about us, the ordinary consumer? Do we benefit from Jobs' scheme? A fifteen dollar iTunes gift card will buy the holder twelve or thirteen songs, which is about what they would get had they paid the same amount for the average pop CD. The savings are hardly earth-shattering.

Plus, this demarcation between "legal" and "illegal" downloading has provided cover for the RIAA to go after "piracy" like they have long wanted to. The latest word is that they have threatened legal action against universities that refuse to hand over lists of "pirates." Of course, the idea of an industry that prosecutes eleven year old girls for downloading "Happy Birthday" calling anyone else a pirate is bald-faced hypocrisy.

And then there is the iPod itself, which can cost anywhere from $150 to $400. For someone making seven dollars an hour, a swiftly growing section of the US workforce, this is far from an easy buy. The notion of “pay-then-download” being better for the consumer is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, dogs and ponies, and good ol' supply and demand.

This kind of cartoon logic doesn't just apply to the ordinary music fan, but to the manufacture of the iPod itself. Nine months ago, Apple was scrambling into damage control as it was revealed that the players are built in sweatshop conditions on the outskirts of Shanghai. Workers lived in cramped conditions, were paid about $50 a month, and in some cases were forbidden from seeing family members or friends. Of course, Apple denied any knowledge up and down, claiming that they were "committed to ensuring that working conditions in our supply chain are safe, workers are treated with respect and dignity, and manufacturing processes are environmentally responsible." But as this writer has said before on Dissident Voice, "we've heard this before. We've heard it from Disney, from Kathy Lee, and now from Apple. In the end it's the same song, different arrangement."

So while Jobs, along with cohort Bono, would like us to believe they care deeply about poverty in Africa with their high-profile RED campaign, it's worth keeping in mind that the money being used to launch that campaign is made on the backs of the very people RED is claiming to help. But by bandying about the image of Africans as helpless little savages in need of assistance from the kind white man, Jobs has managed to make himself look magnanimous for giving work to them in the first place. Kipling would be proud.

As rock critic Dave Marsh pointed out in a recent blog posting, "in Africa, and on broader social questions in general, I think there are other approaches. I think $10 to the World Social Forum organization (which held its last meeting in Kenya) would bring more benefit. To Africans. Poor ones."

So while 100 million iPods sold is an historic marking point in our musical era, the praise showered upon Jobs by his contemporaries leaves the picture a bit skewed to say the least. The music industry is a parasite; a blight on music itself and our very lives, stifling creativity and limiting possibilities for artist, fan and worker alike, all in the name of marketability. Jobs shouldn't be lauded for helping the parasite survive. He should be shamed.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

100 Millionth iPod Sold

It was announced today on Rolling Stone's website. We won't be hearing the end of the congratulatory tripe for a long time now. Just remember, dear readers, Jobs is no different than any CEO. -AB

Friday, April 6, 2007

Tune of the Week: The Offspring's "Tehran"

I'm sure it was a relief to everyone when the British sailors were released this week, especially for those of us who are terrified by Bush and Blair's cynical sabre-rattling against Iran.

This is a song that goes way back to the Offspring's early days, well before they hit it big with "Self Esteem" (remember that slab of ancient history?). Not surprisingly, it's a lot more punk rock than they have sounded for years. A striking, menacing protest against the gung-ho posturing of Bush the first against Iran almost twenty years ago. Recently, the band re-tooled the lyrics to replace "Tehran" with "Baghdad" for the Rock Against Bush compilation. Let's hope they won't need to switch it back to the original version!

***

In your plane in the blue sky
You roam again
Words that echo in your mind
Make your heart beat faster
This is no Vietnam
We will win in Iran

The President said let it ride
Islam be damned
Make your last stand
In Tehran

Warrior, the time bomb's
About to go
What will you feel
Will you ever wonder
If the man that's in your sights
Ever kissed his girl goodbye

The captain said kill or die
Islam be damned
Make your last stand
In Tehran

Great Satan
Our flags are burning

Soon America may find
Its young man in the sand
Where the casualty
Is just a number
In Iran

The president said let it ride
You will be damned
Make your last stand
In Tehran

Monday, April 2, 2007

New Feature: Tune of the Week

During the past month, my postings have been sporadic at best. I know that there is a large handful of people out there who check this blog on a regular basis, and to them I apologize for this. The coming months will see a great deal of changes made on this site. As people may be aware, my articles have been picked up by Znet, so much more work from that particular outlet will find its way onto the blog. I am working on a new layout (one that isn't another cookie-cutter layout from Blogger) to go up sometime around early summer, and later this week a new feature will be debuting: Tune of the Week.

This will be posted every weekend, and will be a tune, old or new, rock or rap, blues or whatever that best speaks to a major event of the past several days. On days when the anti-war movement is in the forefront, you'll get an anti-war jam. When immigrant rights is in the news, then it's time for a joint that sticks it to the bastards of ICE. Or some weeks you'll be getting a straightforward great piece of rebel music.

Each week the posting will include the artist, record, lyrics, and hopefully a place you can download the song. There's a lot of great music out there, and a lot of it goes un-noticed. This is an effort to maybe get people talking about it again, and contribute to the dialogue of what truly revolutionary music sounds like!

Stay Free,
Alex